Yes, you heard right! This Friday, slightly more than 6% of District of Columbia Public School employees received separation notices based on either performance or noncompliance with licensing requirements for this next school year.
The 413 employees who received separation notices have the chance to resign, to appeal, or to retire if they are eligible to do so. Of those receiving separation notices, 309 were due to low performance ratings received through IMPACT, while 104 were employees who hadn’t complied with licensing requirements.
IMPACT is the evaluation tool which was introduced at the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year by DC’s former chancellor, Michelle Rhee. This tool evaluates teacher performance based on four criteria: student achievement, instructional expertise, collaboration, and professionalism. It assessed other employees based on criteria related to their particular jobs. Employees receive one of the following IMPACT ratings based on their evaluation in each criterion for the year: highly effective, effective, minimally effective, or ineffective.
Of the 6,500 employees of DCPS who are evaluated by IMPACT, 4,100 are members of the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) and about 3,400 of those are teachers. WTU members earning top rating qualify for performance bonuses of as much as $25,000, and those who were top-rated two years in a row, which included 290 WTU members, were eligible for base salary increases of up to $20,000 as well as the annual performance bonus. That’s a whole lot of motivation!
And almost 60% of those WTU members who received the lowest rating last year and stayed, improved their rating this year. DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson, who replaced Michelle Rhee when she resigned in October, stated in the announcement made Friday regarding the issuing of separation notices, “Great teachers are critical to our success.”
However, WTU President Nathan Saunders told Reuters that he was concerned over one of the subgroups that included 21 teachers who were being “moved out” of the district, “who were deemed effective or highly effective under the system and terminated because they could not find a placement within their public school system, while DCPS goes out and hires new teachers.”
Saunders wonders if IMPACT is the key to the success Henderson spoke of in light of the 21 effective to highly effective teachers who are being let go. “The ultimate potential effect of this system might be to drive effective teachers out of the system as opposed to bring them in,” he said. “In the second year of IMPACT we now can see that you can be effective or highly effective and be terminated.”
“And that is problematic, not for 6 percent of the D.C. public school workforce, but 100 percent of the D.C. public schools workforce,” Saunders concluded.